Tag Archives: Jim Turturici

Introducing Bellpenny Brewing Company, Congrats on Inaugural Beer Release

Congratulations are in order for Bellpenny Brewing Company and co-owners Char Boger (self-described “head paper pusher”) and Jim Turturici (brewmaster). Bellpenny just released their first-ever beer and becomes the latest brewing company to join the local beer landscape.

Bellpenny tap handle

Bellpenny’s inaugural beer – Bellpenny ESB, 5.8% ABV – was brewed last month in San Jose and kegged this past Thursday. A number of local beer-centric establishments now have the kegs, and among the first to be currently serving the beer are Taplands in Santa Clara and ISO: Beers in downtown San Jose.

2016-09-01 Bellpenny ESB Kegging
Kegs of Bellpenny’s inaugural beer – Bellpenny ESB (Batch No. 1), photo courtesy of Bellpenny Brewing

“I wanted our first beer to be a special offering, one that I haven’t really seen around lately,” Jim recently told me. “And the ESB makes for an excellent year-round beer.”

ESB, or Extra Special Bitter, is a beer style known for a balanced malt and hop flavor profile, and Bellpenny’s ESB is a traditional take on the style.

Indeed – having recently enjoyed a glass at Taplands – Bellpenny ESB is a smooth-drinking beer with slightly roasty and sweet, malty elements that nicely complement a mildly earthy, hoppy bitterness.

Enjoying Bellpenny ESB at Taplands in Santa Clara
Enjoying Bellpenny ESB at Taplands in Santa Clara

Like some San Jose breweries before them, including Santa Clara Valley Brewing (SCV Brewing) and Strike Brewing Company, Bellpenny will brew at other breweries while continuing to plan for their own San Jose brewery. Jim and Char brewed Bellpenny ESB at SCV Brewing with brewmaster – and good friend – Steve Donohue.

Look for Bellpenny’s next release to be an IPA.

Bell Penny Brewing
Bellpenny co-founders Jim Turturici and Char Boger, photo courtesy of Bellpenny Brewing Company

More about Bellpenny from their website, which recently went live.

“Bellpenny Brewing Company is a small, local craft brewery born from 24 years of brewing experience and a lot of heart. Adhering to the techniques and principles that have not changed over centuries, we strive to bring these respected traditions to the present.

“Fierce in spirit and stubborn in nature, Bellpenny could have only come to life by the support from our friends and colleagues.”

And more – in part – about co-owners Jim and Char, who are familiar faces among the local beer community.

“Jim was born and raised in the California Bay Area and was professionally brewing beer before he was legally allowed to drink it. Since Jim began his brewing career in 1992 at the Santa Cruz Brewing Company, he has transformed his passion in brewing into a lifelong respect for the industry. Jim has brewed for Santa Cruz Brewing Company, Rock Bottom, Campbell Brewing Company, Uncommon Brewers and Uproar Brewery. It was at Campbell that Jim decided to enter his first beers into the GABF and came home with a gold medal for his Scottish Ale in 2013. That same year, his Imperial Stout took home the silver medal at the World Beer Cup. Then in 2014, his Barley Wine won a silver medal at the GABF. Soon after, Jim and his Assistant Brewer, Char, decided it was time to do their own thing. After much hard work, Bellpenny was born.”

“Char began her career in the craft beer industry in 2013, managing media for Dipsomania Inc., a well known craft beer restaurant group in the South Bay Area. As part of her role she managed ticket sales and media for The Beerwalk. In 2014 she met Jim at Campbell Brewing Company. They became fast friends and within a few months he put her on the payroll as an assistant brewer and the rest is a craft beer fueled history.”



Uproar Brewing Company August 2016 Update

Uproar 01

I visited Uproar Brewing Company again recently – located in downtown San Jose’s SoFA District – and met up with partner Steve Vandewater, head brewer Jim Turturici and food honcho Dietrich Wahlstrand. They had already given me word that a lot of construction was taking place with dust everywhere, that the kitchen space had been set up and that most of the brewery was in place.

Jim was waiting for the last of the brewing equipment to arrive. Piping, electrical, etc. will be set up after that, with brewing to finally commence upon receipt of licensing approval.

With an annual capacity of 4,000 BBL (1 BBL or barrel is equivalent to 31 gallons), Jim said that he’s aiming for 300 BBL the first year.

The beer lineup is yet to be formulated, but expect wine barrels to be utilized from the get go.

Uproar 16
Uproar head brewer Jim Turturici (left) and co-founder Steve Vandewater

From the food and restaurant side, Dietrich indicated that they were working on the menu and that he would know more – and be ready to share some interesting news – very soon.

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Dietrich Wahlstrand

Regarding any ETAs on possible opening dates, Steve said that Uproar would open as soon as possible. And though no specific target dates were mentioned, all were hopeful that Uproar will open by the end of the year.

Below are additional photos from my recent visit.

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I know a bunch of folks who eagerly await Uproar’s opening. Uproar also continues to pique interest from folks who are interested in seeing how much their opening will help vitalize the area.

I’m excited about all that as well.

At the same time, it’s always a special treat to see first-hand the buildout of a local brewery or beer-centric establishment, and it’s been great seeing the continued steady progress taking place at Uproar.



Uproar Brewing Company Confirms Local Award-Winning Brewmaster Jim Turturici as New Head Brewer

Jim Turturici (center) flanked by Hermitage Brewing's Greg Filippi (left) and Uncommon Brewers' Alec Stefansky (right) at a local beer festival earlier this year
Jim Turturici (center) flanked by Hermitage Brewing’s Greg Filippi (left) and Uncommon Brewers’ Alec Stefansky (right) at the SoFA District’s Winter Market earlier this year

It’s official. Co-founder Steve Vandewater confirmed with me earlier today that local brewmaster Jim Turturici is the new head brewer for Uproar Brewing Company.

Jim fills the position recently vacated by Mike Willaford, who announced last month that he and his wife Michelle had parted ways with Uproar Brewing and would be returning home to Minnesota.

Jim is a familiar face in the local beer scene with a stellar resume. His six years of brewing at Campbell Brewing Company culminated in his winning multiple medals at the most prestigious beer competitions, including gold in the Scottish-Style Ale category at the 2013 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) and silver in the British-Style Imperial Stout category at the 2014 World Beer Cup. His hot streak continued at the 2014 GABF when he won silver in the Barley Wine-Style Ale category.

More recently, Jim has been brewing at Uncommon Brewers in Santa Cruz while in the early stages of starting his own brewery – Bellpenny Brewing Company – with business partner Char Boger.

That’s the quick bit of news for now, but I’ll be sure to post another update soon.

Special Beer Release: Single Bourbon Barrel Aged 2 Tun from Hermitage Brewing, Plus Interview with Head Brewer Greg Filippi

Hermitage Brewing head brewer Greg Filippi (center) at Hermitage Brewing Company joined by Palo Alto Brewing's Kasim Syed and Santa Clara Valley Brewing's Steve Donohue. Photo from this past fall.
Hermitage Brewing head brewer Greg Filippi (center) at Hermitage Brewing Company joined by Palo Alto Brewing’s Kasim Syed and Santa Clara Valley Brewing’s Steve Donohue. Photo from this past fall.

The latest project to come out of San Jose’s Hermitage Brewing Company promises to be a special one, and fans of imperial stouts – and barrel-aged stouts in particular – should be especially pleased.

On Wed., March 25, Hermitage will unveil Single Bourbon Barrel Aged 2 Tun Imperial Stout. Head brewer Greg Filippi put their regular Ale of the 2 Tun in a single Kentucky bourbon barrel close to three years ago, and the beer has now been deemed ready for release. Availability of the Single Bourbon Barrel Aged 2 Tun will be limited as the one bourbon barrel produced a total of just eight five-gallon kegs.

The beer will be available draft only at the Hermitage Brewing Company Tap Room (1627 S. 7th St.) and sister company Tied House in Mountain View (954 Villa St.).

Tapping at the Hermitage Tap Room takes place at 4pm. Hermitage will host Brother Baby’s BBQ until the closing at 9pm.

Tapping at Tied House is set for 11:30am. To pair with the beer, Tied House will feature a new menu item – Paulet Bon Femme: Mary’s free-range chicken, pearl onions, house-smoked bacon, smashed potatoes and sauce veloute ($18.95).

Brewer’s Notes

The descriptive brewer’s notes from Hermitage Brewing’s head brewer Greg Filippi offer a peek into the characteristics of Single Bourbon Barrel Aged 2 Tun (ABV: 8%):

“This beer began as a small side project back in the summer of 2012. We took a batch of our 2-Tun Imperial Stout and racked it into a freshly-dumped bourbon barrel, straight from Kentucky. Then we tucked it away in a cozy corner of our barrel cellar and forgot about it. Two-and-a-half years later, the result is a F**KING AWESOME big, bold beer, absolutely dripping in sweet bourbon deliciousness.

“The whiskey character is strong up front and dominates the aroma, but beneath it lie the familiar chocolate and espresso notes of the stout. Whiskey shines through again as the beer crosses the palate, but quickly gives way to smooth, silky chocolate. That chocolate lingers in the finish, dancing with the sweet bourbon in perfect form, the way only years together can produce.”

Hermitage Brewing Company’s Continuing Rise

Ever since getting hired by founding brewmaster Peter Licht at Hermitage Brewing Company in 2011 (Hermitage itself was established in 2009), Filippi – who is as humble as they come – has done much to elevate the brewery’s reputation thanks to his ingenuity, work ethic and diligence.

The Hermitage brewing team has been very busy as of late expertly executing the recipes on behalf of a bevy of brewery clients. Yet, it is great to see Hermitage Brewing Company continue the commitment to creating their own unique beers.

Head Brewer Greg Filippi

This month marks Filippi’s four-year anniversary at Hermitage. I reached out to him to learn how the ride has been these past years.

Filippi shared, “The ride at Hermitage has been crazy. We have grown pretty fast in the past few years. Dealing with all of the different clients and being able to share ideas back and forth has been an incredible learning experience. And our shared successes have enabled us to get some really cool new toys… I mean equipment.

“The brewery is at full capacity all of the time, and we’re working every day. I have three full-time shift brewers, Larry Hoang, Brandi Ivy, and Grant Goodman. Jim Turturici is going to be joining our team part-time as he works on getting his own endeavor up and running. Then there are all of the other support personnel: an awesome lab, new sales team, our warehouse and packaging staff, and all of the taproom guys and gals. It seems like there’s always someone new. It’s almost surreal sometimes, and we have definitely experienced a few growing pains. But really, it’s just a lot of fun.”

Filippi also shared a bit of what to expect in the coming months. “This year is going to be great. We have an awesome lineup of single hop IPAs – both exciting new varieties and revisiting a couple of our favorites. We have several new seasonals coming out this summer. And we will be doing our fall favorites Fruit Crate Pumpkin Ale and Ryetopia. Should be good drinking all year!”

I was curious to know if the barrel-aged 2 Tun was Filippi’s favorite release to date. He said, “I am very stoked about the way this beer turned out and can’t wait to share it with everyone. I’m proud of a lot of the projects we’ve worked on for different reasons; you know you can’t pick a favorite child. But I do think this one is really something special. So far the reaction of everyone who has gotten to try it has just been, “Wow!” I think [my] notes pretty much cover it. It is definitely a warmer though. The first sip just puts a smile on your face.”

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]

SF Beer Week 2015 Opening Gala Tickets Now Available, Selling Quickly

SF Beer Week Opening Gala 2014
SF Beer Week Opening Gala 2014

San Francisco Beer Week 2015 kicks off with the Opening Gala, the Bay Area’s premier beer event taking place Fri., Feb. 6 from 6-10pm at the spacious Fort Mason Center – Herbst Pavilion in San Francisco.

The SF Beer Week Opening Gala cannot come quickly enough for beer fans, and many have already purchased their tickets which recently became available online.

The Opening Gala welcomes over 80 Bay Area breweries and features many of their finest offerings. South Bay breweries include:

  • Campbell Brewing Company
  • El Toro Brewing Company (Morgan Hill)
  • Gordon Biersch Brewing Company (San Jose)
  • Hermitage Brewing Company (San Jose)
  • Palo Alto Brewing Company
  • Santa Clara Valley Brewing Company (San Jose)
  • Strike Brewing Company (San Jose)

Campbell Brewing will participate in the Opening Gala for the first time, providing those new to the brewery the opportunity to sample beers from brewmaster Jim Turturici, winner of recent, consecutive medals from the prestigious Great American Beer Festival (GABF) and the World Beer Cup.

Opening Gala tickets are $75 and include a commemorative glass with which to enjoy unlimited four-oz. samples of brewery offerings. Local food will be available for purchase from Alicia’s Tamales, Belly Burgers, Good Foods Catering, Kung Fu Tacos, Rosamunde Sausage Grill, Soul Groove and Curry Up Now.

Visit the Opening Gala Eventbrite page to purchase tickets and for event details, including ticket policies and notices and the current list of participating breweries. As in recent years, expect tickets to sell out quickly.

SF Beer Week, presented by the SF Brewers Guild, runs through Sun., Feb. 17. Visitors to the SF Beer Week website will see the just-released schedules for the first wave of beer-related events taking place throughout the Bay Area and can conduct searches for events by regions – San Francisco, East Bay, North Bay and South Bay. South Bay beer fans need not worry; many more events will show up in the coming days and weeks.

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]

Campbell Brewing Company Wins Silver Medal at Great American Beer Festival

Brewmaster Jim Turturici and yours truly enjoying his Mastiff Barleywine in July that would go on to win a silver medal three months later at the 2014 GABF
Brewmaster Jim Turturici and yours truly enjoying his Mastiff Barleywine in July that would go on to win a silver medal three months later at the 2014 GABF

Announced earlier today, Silicon Valley’s Campbell Brewing Company has won a silver medal in the Barley Wine-Style Ale category at this year’s Great American Beer Festival (GABF), held annually in Denver, CO and host to what many consider the country’s leading beer competition.

The honor marks the second year in a row that Campbell Brewing brewmaster Jim Turturici has medaled at the GABF. Last year, his Scottish Ale took gold in the Scottish-Style Ale category.

I had the privilege of tasting this year’s medal winner – Mastiff Barleywine – three months ago during a visit to Campbell Brewing to meet with Turturici.

The beer had been quietly aging since 2011, and we were immediately struck by the aroma and bold flavors upon our first sips. Turturici specially noted characteristics of dates, candied apricots and bready cognac. Within minutes, he was on the phone with a GABF representative to include this beer with his other submissions.

Aptly named, Mastiff Barleywine is a shout out to Turturici’s own big and beautiful mastiff, a much beloved member of his household.

A hearty congratulations to Jim Turturici on his silver medal. Cheers!

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]

Upcoming Beerwalk Takes Place in Downtown Campbell, Plus Pics from Last Year’s Event

Downtown Campbell Beerwalk 2013
Downtown Campbell Beerwalk 2013

According to a recent Facebook update, there have been 10 Beerwalks so far, representing over 7,000 attendees, over 500 volunteers, over 200 different beers, and perhaps most importantly, over $30,000 raised for local non-profit organizations.

For those still unaware, Beerwalks take place every few months throughout various South Bay communities (so far: Japantown, Willow Glen, downtown Campbell, and Santana Row) and provide opportunities for “beerwalkers” to visit local shops and businesses while sampling good beer.

The Beerwalks have proven to be a quadruple win strategy involving South Bay communities, local shops and businesses, beer fans, and local non-profits. The successes are what led the Metro Silicon Valley newspaper to single out the Beerwalks as the “Best Community Showcase” in last year’s “The Best of Silicon Valley” issue.

The next Beerwalk is upon us, as the third annual Downtown Campbell Beerwalk takes place on Wednesday, April 23 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The following is the current list of participating breweries:

  • Drakes
  • Firestone Walker
  • Lagunitas
  • Hangar 24
  • Anchor
  • Speakeasy
  • Anderson Valley
  • Strike
  • Hermitage
  • Santa Clara Valley
  • Campbell
  • Rock Bottom, Campbell
  • 21st Amendment
  • Gordon Biersch
  • Almanac
  • FireHouse
  • Calicraft
  • Sierra Nevada
  • Karl Strauss
  • Stone
  • St. Florian
  • Santa Cruz Ale Works
  • Faultline
  • Lost Coast
  • Headlands Brewing Company
  • Six Rivers
  • Deschutes
  • Oskar Blues

The following is the list of tasting locations:

  • Frost Cupcake Factory
  • Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shop
  • Snake & Butterfly
  • Khartoum Lounge
  • Liquid Bread Gastropub
  • Tessora’s Barra di Vino
  • Steepers
  • Blue Line Pizza
  • Brown Chicken Brown Cow
  • Ciano’s Modern Latin Flavors
  • Mo’s
  • Sonoma Chicken Coop
  • Spread Deli & Bottles
  • The Socialight
  • Cali Muscle Sports Nutrition & Apparel
  • Embellish Hair & Lash Lounge
  • Pro Martial Arts
  • Bela La Vie Boutique & Gallery
  • The Cruiser Shop
  • Bombshell Boutique
  • In Style Shoes
  • The European Cobblery
  • Urban Girl
  • The Olive Bar
  • The Jewel Box
  • Toys Toys Toys
  • MarKey Capital
  • Bozzuto & Associates Insurance Services
  • Celtic Shoppe
  • Sushi Confidential

Tickets can be purchased in advance for $30 online at www.thebeerwalk.com. Last year’s Beerwalk in downtown Campbell sold out, and with the weather expected to be pleasant this upcoming Wednesday, the Beerwalk will again be a popular draw. In case the event does not sell out, tickets can be purchased day of for $35 at check-in locations.

For additional information, including check-in time and locations, visit the Beerwalk website.

More pics from last year’s Downtown Campbell Beerwalk 2013:

Beerwalk co-founder Charlie Mann
Beerwalk co-founder Charlie Mann
Beerwalk co-founder Jordan Trigg, Hermitage Brewing's Larry Hoang, and Campbell Brewing's Jim Turturici
Beerwalk co-founder Jordan Trigg, Hermitage Brewing’s Larry Hoang, and Campbell Brewing’s Jim Turturici
Great turnout at the Campbell Beerwalk 2013
Great turnout at the Campbell Beerwalk 2013

Great crowd at the Campbell Beerwalk 2013

Campbell Beerwalk 2013

Beerwalkers at the Campbell Beerwalk 2013
Beerwalkers at the Campbell Beerwalk 2013
Lost Coast Brewery's Jack Van Stone and Beerwalk volunteers
Lost Coast Brewery’s Jack Van Stone and Beerwalk volunteers
Hermitage Brewing Company's Peter Estaniel and Carolyn Hopkins-Vasquez
Hermitage Brewing Company’s Peter Estaniel and Carolyn Hopkins-Vasquez
Yours truly and Santa Clara Valley Brewing's Steve Donohue
Yours truly and Santa Clara Valley Brewing’s Steve Donohue
Good eats at one of the Beerwalk tasting locations, Spread Deli & Bottles
Good eats at one of the Beerwalk tasting locations, Spread Deli & Bottles
Ending the Beerwalk with a nice view of the Campbell water tower
Ending the Beerwalk with a nice view of the Campbell water tower

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]

Campbell Brewing Company Wins Gold Medal at Great American Beer Festival

Campbell Brewing Company Scottish Ale
Campbell Brewing Company Scottish Ale

Hearty congratulations are in order for Brewmaster Jim Turturici from the South Bay’s Campbell Brewing Company (200 East Campbell Ave.).

Campbell Brewing just earned a gold medal at the prestigious Great American Beer Festival this past weekend.

The winning beer? Campbell Brewing Scottish Ale in the category of Scottish-Style Ale.

From a conversation earlier today, Jim, who has been with Campbell Brewing the past five years, shared how he found out that he won, what winning means for him, more about the winning beer, and what is in store at Campbell Brewing Company.

How did you find out that you won?

First off, I usually attend GABF, so it’s funny that the one year I don’t attend, I win.

I was actually on my way to get a burrito, and Steve Donohue (note: currently the Brewmaster of Santa Clara Valley Brewing Company and himself a four-time, consecutive GABF medaling winner) texted me that I just won gold for my Scottish. I texted back, ‘Bullsh**!’ We’re good friends, and we like messing with each other.

Then I got the same text from my former assistant brewer Greg Filippi (note: currently the Lead Brewer of Hermitage Brewing Company). I texted back to Greg the same thing: ‘Bullsh**.’

I figured that they were both teaming up to prank me.

But then I started getting other random texts from people congratulating me, so I knew that it was not a joke.

Steve did say that even though he would mess around about a lot of things, he wouldn’t be joking about a GABF medal.

What was your reaction?

Total happiness. It’s an item to cross off the bucket list.

I like my beers. I like my recipes. I know what they are, and it’s nice to receive confirmation from peers and colleagues. It’s a rewarding feeling.

There’s also a part of me that feels vindicated a little bit. It’s been a challenge working here the past five years for various reasons. I’ve been fighting to get the Campbell Brewing Company name out, so getting recognition is nice.

But bottom line: I am stoked to win it for myself and for the brewery, but I’m also stoked for the South Bay – hopefully people can recognize that there are breweries here.

Talk more about your now GABF gold medal winner Scottish Ale.

It’s a malt bomb. If you ever wanted to know what a pure malty beer tastes like, it’s this one. Deep garnet color. Really smooth. Heavy caramel notes without being too sweet. No residual sugar but has a cooked sugar flavor. No hop profile at all.

If you want a malty, 6.8% ABV beer, this is it. Just a nice, heavy beautiful beer.

I still remember the pairing of this beer and the pork belly from the beer-and-food pairing event this summer. They combined perfectly.

The Scottish Ale is one of the mainstay beers at Campbell Brewing, so you’ll always find it on tap here.

Campbell Brewing Company Update

Jim also shared additional information on what is going on with Campbell Brewing Company.

With the location and the connection to Sonoma Chicken Coop continuing to cause confusion among customers, look for a separation towards the beginning of next year. Says Jim, “It will be good to clear everything up so that we’re simply Campbell Brewing Company. The managing team of Jerry McDougal and operations manager Dan Doherty are working to sort that out.”

And still unbeknownst to many, renowned Michelin-starred Executive Chef Mike Miller, formerly of Silicon Valley Capital Club and Trevese, has been working at Campbell Brewing Company. He partnered with Jim this past summer on a stellar beer-and-food pairing tasting event and continues to refine the current menu offerings.

Jim adds, “We can now say that Campbell Brewing Company is home to a Michelin-starred chef and award-winning beers.”

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]

Highlights of the Third San Jose Beerwalk in Nearby Downtown Campbell

Checking in at the SJ Beerwalk in downtown Campbell
Checking in at the SJ Beerwalk in downtown Campbell

The third San Jose Beerwalk took place in nearby downtown Campbell this past Saturday, Aug. 11, 2012 with hundreds of beerwalkers strolling through downtown Campbell on a gorgeous, warm summer day. While visiting a variety of stores and restaurants that served as designated pouring stations, beerwalkers had the opportunity to enjoy good beer from mostly Northern California breweries.

Great early turnout for the SJ Beerwalk in downtown Campbell
Great early turnout for the SJ Beerwalk in downtown Campbell

This is the first Beerwalk to take place outside of San Jose’s Japantown, and the attendance indicated that these South Bay Beerwalks are as popular as ever. Anticipation of good beer was an effective remedy for the long lines at check-in and at some of the pouring locations. Also, waiting for beer pours provided additional opportunities to mingle and check out the local downtown Campbell shops and restaurants.

SJ Beerwalk in downtown Campbell
SJ Beerwalk in downtown Campbell

Of note was the presence, once again, of beers from a number of South Bay breweries like Hermitage, Tied House, Strike, Gordon Biersch, Campbell Brewing, Faultline, Los Gatos Brewing, FireHouse Grill & Brewery, and Rock Bottom Campbell.

Jenny and Ben Lewis of Strike Brewing Co. at the SJ Beerwalk in downtown Campbell
Jenny and Ben Lewis of Strike Brewing Co. at the SJ Beerwalk in downtown Campbell
Gordon Biersch beers at the SJ Beerwalk in downtown Campbell
Gordon Biersch beers at the SJ Beerwalk in downtown Campbell
Faultline at the SJ Beerwalk in downtown Campbell
Faultline Brewing Company at the SJ Beerwalk in downtown Campbell
Los Gatos Brewing Company at the SJ Beerwalk in downtown Campbell
Los Gatos Brewing Company at the SJ Beerwalk in downtown Campbell

Special highlights were the tours of the Campbell Brewing facility provided by Campbell Brewing brewmaster Jim Turturici and a first look inside the soon-to-open Liquid Bread Gastropub, which served as both a check-in and pouring location after the owners received the keys just one day before the Beerwalk. Look for Liquid Bread to open later this fall with a soft opening next month.

Campbell Brewing brewmaster Jim Turturici provided brewery tours at the SJ Beerwalk in downtown Campbell
Campbell Brewing brewmaster Jim Turturici provided brewery tours at the SJ Beerwalk in downtown Campbell

 

Ryan Banderas (left) and Jordan Trigg (right) inside the soon-to-open Liquid Bread Gastropub at the SJ Beerwalk in downtown Campbell
Ryan Banderas (left) and Jordan Trigg (right) inside the soon-to-open Liquid Bread Gastropub at the SJ Beerwalk in downtown Campbell
Remodeling is under way at the soon-to-open Liquid Bread Gastropub
Remodeling is under way at the soon-to-open Liquid Bread Gastropub
Looking outside at the soon-to-open Liquid Bread Gastropub
Looking outside at the soon-to-open Liquid Bread Gastropub
Soon-to-open Liquid Bread Gastropub
Soon-to-open Liquid Bread Gastropub

Remodeling is under way at the soon-to-open Liquid Bread Gastropub

The next Beerwalk will likely take place in December. For the latest Beerwalk updates, like the SJ Beerwalk Facebook page.

South Bay beer enthusiasts Jim, Billy, Nicole, Don, and Gary at the SJ Beerwalk in downtown Campbell
South Bay beer enthusiasts Jim, Billy, Nicole, Don, and Gary at the SJ Beerwalk in downtown Campbell
Yours truly and Hermitage Brewing Company brewer Greg Filippi at the SJ Beerwalk in downtown Campbell
Yours truly and Hermitage Brewing Company brewer Greg Filippi at the SJ Beerwalk in downtown Campbell

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]

A Brief History of Craft Beer in the South Bay

Meet the Brewers at Hermitage Brewing Company, Feb. 19, 2011
Meet the Brewers at Hermitage Brewing Company, Feb. 19, 2011

It was the Feb. 2011 second annual Meet the Brewers beer festival held at San Jose’s Hermitage Brewing Company that provided me more than just a memorable beer experience. Truth be told, my wife and I had originally gone mainly for the food trucks, but when in Rome…

I tried a refreshing Tied House Brewery wheat beer which served as a prelude to the Campbell Brewing hefeweizen with its pleasant combination of sweetness and bitterness. My wife, who is from Bavaria, heartily approved.

After talking with the pourers – many of whom were the actual brewers – about their beers, I opted for unfamiliar-to-me beer styles next.

The Uncommon Brewers organic brown ale had a flavor profile of roasted nuts and a slight bitterness. Seabright Brewery’s oatmeal stout poured black and smooth with hints of dark chocolate. Finally, there was the Faultine Brewery porter, a dark beer that smelled and tasted of roasted coffee beans.

The beers were tasty; they also paired well with our Korean tacos and burritos that we got from one of the aforementioned food trucks.

We left relatively early and did not sample any more beers from the other breweries, but thanks in large part to this beer festival, I gained a new hobby – to learn more about beer and the wide range of beer styles while checking out the local beer scene.

We began complementing our already existing wine rituals with beer exploration. I’d go online and learn about solid examples of various beer styles and match that information with the selections at nearby stores that sold craft beer.

I stayed up-to-date with Peter Estaniel’s BetterBeerBlog to see if there was anything new going on in the South Bay.

In April 2011, the first KraftBrew Beer Fest – organized by Naglee Park Garage – took place at the historic San Jose Woman’s Club, and we tried a larger selection of different styles of domestic and international beers.

Some beer styles we enjoyed from the first sip (IPA for my wife), while others we grew to appreciate over time (IPA for me).

Events like the Meet the Brewers beer festival and the KraftBrew Beer Fest not only provided opportunities to discover the wide variety of beer styles, but they also showed that there are plenty of folks in the area interested in good beer.

For the next year-and-a-half, our appreciation for beer and the local beer scene would continue to grow, and for me in particular become a passion as I started blogging and writing about the local beer scene.

Local Craft Beer Boom

As recently as late 2008, William Brand wrote that the South Bay was a craft beer desert, but from our ventures out to local beer spots, stores and events, we learned that Brand’s observation was surely evolving.

Beer enthusiasts no longer had to routinely drive at least 45 minutes to try the latest touted, hard-to-get beer. There were establishments that made and carried great beer right here, from Morgan Hill through San Jose to Palo Alto.

We observed first hand the growing demand for – and distribution of – good beer, a relatively recent development according to a number of longer-term South Bay beer fans. The various, possible reasons for why the South Bay was such a latecomer continue to be discussed (and might perhaps be a topic in a future write-up).

Fortunately, such discussions these days often end on a positive note; many beer drinkers throughout the South Bay are enjoying the current craft beer boom and imagining the potential for the local area.

Craft Beer Movement and the South Bay

“Craft beer” – as defined by the Brewers Association – refers to beer made by a “small, independent, and traditional” brewing company. Such definitions illustrate the contrast between local and regional craft beer brewing companies and the giant, macro brewing companies that still dominate the overall beer market.

But according to recent numbers released by the Brewers Association in March, overall beer volume sales are down while the U.S. craft brewing industry continues to grow in volume and dollar sales. More beer drinkers are trying craft beer and learning about the various aspects that make craft beer more compelling compared to macro beer.

This nationwide growth within the craft beer segment reflects the growing interest and demand for craft beer here locally. A number of recent developments highlight the increasing popularity of craft beer within our region – from the popular and successful beer festivals to the growth of local brewing companies like Hermitage and Strike, as well as a new San Jose brewery that is in the works.

Greg Filippi - Lead Brewer at Hermitage Brewing Company, May 18, 2012
Greg Filippi – Lead Brewer at Hermitage Brewing Company, May 18, 2012

The Bay Brewers Guild, a collective of brewers representing the South Bay and nearby Santa Cruz and Monterey areas, continues to take shape, while the spotlight on the beers made at our local brewpubs – and the brewers who make them – grows bigger and brighter.

More establishments are offering craft beer in the South Bay and taking care to ensure that their staff are knowledgeable enough about beer to be able to make just the right recommendation to both beer enthusiasts and newbies alike.

Restaurant James Randall in Los Gatos has joined California Café (both the Palo Alto and Los Gatos locations) in hosting a growing number of beer-and-food-pairing events.

With craft beer’s growing popularity, it’s no surprise that more folks are interested in homebrewing and joining homebrew clubs. “We receive several inquiries a month from new homebrewers… where even just a year ago inquiries were much more infrequent,” says Derek Wolfgram, president of the homebrew club Silicon Valley Sudzers.

And there is a growing list of craft beer-centric businesses that have just opened or are set to open this year.

In downtown San Jose, the list includes craft beer bars Original Gravity Public House and ISO: Beers, and restaurant Blackbird Tavern.

In Campbell, there is Liquid Bread beer bar. In Mountain View, there are Jane’s Beer Store, South Bay’s first specialty beer store, and Steins Beer Garden + Restaurant.

History and Emergence of the South Bay Beer Scene: Breweries

Even hardcore South Bay beer fans might be surprised to learn that the valley had its share of early breweries, as cited in the 1992 book The Bars of Santa Clara County: A Beer Drinker’s Guide to Silicon Valley co-written by Bay Area beer scribe Jay Brooks and Karen Knezevich.

These breweries produced predominantly German-style beers and included Eagle Brewery (San Jose, 1853), Fredericksburg Brewery (San Jose, 1856), and other San Jose breweries opening between 1875 and 1905, including San Jose Brewery, Louis Krumb’s Brewery, and the St. Claire Brewing Company. After breweries such as these closed, there were no local South Bay breweries until the mid-1980s.

Breweries like Winchester Brewery and Palo Alto Brewing Company would come and go, but not before making their impact.

In 1986, Pete Slosberg launched Pete’s Wicked Ales in Mountain View thanks to Palo Alto Brewing Company and Bob Stoddard, of whom Slosberg refers to as “one of the first, true pioneers” in craft brewing.

Stoddard would later open his eponymous Brewhouse & Eatery in Sunnyvale in 1993 (now FireHouse Grill & Brewery) and in Campbell in 2002 (now Campbell Brewing Company/Sonoma Chicken Coop).

Mountain View’s Tied House Brewery opened in 1988, and later in the same year Dan Gordon and Dean Biersch opened the first Gordon Biersch brewery restaurant in Palo Alto.

The second Gordon Biersch opened in downtown San Jose in 1990, replacing a brewpub that had closed in four months, proving in part that South Bay native Gordon – “Born in San Jose. Grew up in Los Altos,” he shares – had a strong case of South Bay pride. Gordon would go on to open a brewery and bottling facility in San Jose in 1997.

Dan Gordon, June 26, 2012
Dan Gordon, June 26, 2012

Los Gatos Brewing Company opened in 1991 with their downtown San Jose location opening in 2010.

El Toro Brewing Company started in 1992 with the opening of their Morgan Hill brewpub in 2006.

Additional breweries and restaurants would open, including Sunnyvale’s Faultline Brewing Company in 1994.

“We have breweries here in the South Bay that have been around for a while, and it’s nice to see people appreciating beer more,” states Campbell Brewing’s brewmaster Jim Turturici.

Steve Donohue, currently brewing at Hermitage while working on the initial stages of opening Santa Clara Valley Brewing Company in San Jose, asks that people give South Bay breweries a chance and says, “I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised.”

Steve Donohue and Peter Licht (Brewmaster at Hermitage Brewing Company), June 22, 2012
Steve Donohue and Peter Licht (Brewmaster at Hermitage Brewing Company), June 22, 2012

Craft Beer Bars and More

Moving along the local craft beer landscape, every beer region has its share of go-to hangouts for good beer. Since last year, Harry’s Hofbrau in San Jose has become a destination for the South Bay craft beer community. General manager Kevin Olcese has earned a solid reputation for his beer knowledge and passion, for bringing in hard-to-get beers on tap, and for informing customers via Facebook of the latest beer arrivals.

Kevin Olcese, June 26, 2012
Kevin Olcese, June 26, 2012

Olcese, however, is quick to give credit to Palo Alto’s Rose & Crown Pub and San Jose’s Wine Affairs – “They’re huge,” he simply says – for helping to pave the way in the beer scene, contributing greatly to the American and micro/craft beer knowledge base among local beer drinkers.

Kasim Syed took over the Rose & Crown in 2006 with an immediate goal to bring better quality beers along with beers that other places didn’t have. His second goal was to get people to try these different beers and get his customers to change their tastes. On a moment’s notice, he would drive to Santa Rosa to pick up a single keg of the latest Russian River Brewing Company offering – all to get more people to try different styles of beer.

As for the growing number of local beer spots, Syed says, “It’s not a competition. It’s about giving people choices; there’s more fun with more choices. These are happy times right now.”

Kasim Syed, June 27, 2012
Kasim Syed, June 27, 2012

Owner Diane Chang-Laurent remembers opening Wine Affairs in November 2007 with only five Belgian beers in bottles. But the customers, including mostly homebrewers at the beginning, would constantly request various beers from particular breweries. The beer focus really took shape in 2009.

Chang-Laurent says, “All the credit goes to the customers. They pushed me, and I listened.” As for the growing number of beer spots opening up in the South Bay, she says, “The more, the better. Plus, competition is always good.”

Diane Chang-Laurent, June 28, 2012
Diane Chang-Laurent, June 28, 2012

In downtown San Jose, Ryan Summers opened Good Karma Vegan Café in 2006 and has worked quietly yet diligently on bringing and maintaining a quality rotating craft beer selection – currently 15 beers on tap – for Good Karma’s loyal following. The new beer-centric establishments will “create a draw for everybody and help us take the customer experience even further as each of us continues to think about how to stand out.”

Ryan Summers, May 17, 2012
Ryan Summers, May 17, 2012

The craft beer focus began in 2008 for Bobby’s Liquors in Santa Clara thanks to Sukhjeev Singh, better known as Dee to his customers. Among the varied bottled craft beers in stock, Bobby’s offers a well-regarded collection of hard-to-get bottled sour ales.

Look for Dee and his wife to open ISO: Beers in downtown San Jose later this fall, which he says is “a beer bar and tasting lounge that will offer about 2,000 refrigerated, bottled craft beers and feature 50 to 60 craft beers on tap starting out.”

San Jose’s Naglee Park Garage and Jack’s Bar & Lounge, while providing respectable craft beer offerings, are coordinating large-scale South Bay beer events, like the Garage’s upcoming Summer KraftBrew Beer Fest (their third KraftBrew installment), taking place in downtown San Jose on Saturday, July 21. Event goers will get to enjoy a variety of beer styles along with great food and music in a festive atmosphere.

The next South Bay Beerwalk hosted by Jack’s (their third beerwalk) takes place in Campbell on Saturday, August 11, providing the opportunity to check out downtown Campbell while sampling beers from Northern California.

South Bay Craft Beer Scene Going Forward

Having been born and raised in San Jose (and still living here), I have seen various communities spring up over the years, communities bonded by a myriad of cultural facets, like art, music, food, sports and technology. We can now include craft beer; co-owner Dan Phan of Original Gravity Public House notes, “Beer is the universal beverage that has been bringing people together on common ground for thousands of years.”

Dan Phan and Johnny Wang, April 9, 2012
Dan Phan and Johnny Wang, April 9, 2012
Dan Phan and Johnny Wang, June 28, 2012
Dan Phan and Johnny Wang, June 28, 2012

The late esteemed English writer and journalist Michael Jackson wrote in his 1997 book The New World Guide to Beer, “The world always knew that beer was a noble and complex drink, but, for a moment in history, that was forgotten. Now it is being remembered.”

Indeed, many folks, including Dan Gordon, have felt the momentum for good beer building in the South Bay ever since the 80s and 90s. Fast forward to today, and there is no doubting the momentum. Notable Bay Area beer editor and writer Mike Pitsker agrees that the South Bay beer scene is on the up-and-up. And brewer Steve Donohue adds the capstone comment, “We’re just scratching the surface.”

[An abridged version of this post was shared as the cover story in the annual beer issue for Metro Silicon Valley.]